As the year draws to a close, it’s too late for a mileage run. But it’s not too late to do a little travel housekeeping. Any traveler who has a little extra time might consider these tips which could save time, money and/or hassles in the year to come.
1. Check your mileage statements for potential expiration dates. Some airlines zero out your miles if you haven’t flown in a certain time. If you’ve got miles expiring, you can take advantage of a number of ways to get miles that don’t involve flying — online shopping, renting a car, even buying or donating miles is enough to keep an account active.
2. Check your mileage statements to make sure you’ve received all your miles. Almost anything you can imagine can and has happened to clients and friends, from getting miles for two or three of four segments on a trip, to not getting miles at all, particularly when partner carriers are involved. But, there’s often a limit to how far back you can request miles.
3. Make sure your frequent flier accounts are in your legal name. If there’s an issue, contact the carrier to get frequent flier account names to match your legal name. As airline systems and TSA get pickier, I’ve had clients who’ve had no problem in the past suddenly have issues with not just mileage credit, but also things like Pre-Check. While this doesn’t apply to all travelers, it’s silly not to get expedited security just over a name issue.
4. If you have sunscreen or other cosmetics and/or medicine items you take on vacation, check expiration dates. Or, try to remember when you purchased them. Sunscreen, for example, lasts about three years. While it’s an inexact science — better to be safe than sorry. (This one especially applies if you are someone who keeps a separate bag of toiletries for travel.)
5. Check your passport expiration date, and the number of pages. Many countries need six months validity on a passport to enter the country. Others need blank pages to stamp a visa or permission to enter.
6. If you have battery operated travel devices, check the batteries. Especially if you don’t use them regularly. (Example cited by an unhappy client, noise-cancelling headphones.)
7. Check your chargers, especially if like me you buy cheap versions online instead of the expensive ones at the store. (I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping a spare inexpensive car and home phone charger.)
8. Refresh your memory as to where travel necessities actually are stored in your house or garage. It’s no fun to be about to leave on a big trip and be unable to locate adapters, a money belt or even a passport.
Many readers may not need to do most or any of these things. But, if you’re not sure, it won’t hurt to spend a few minutes. It could save money and hours in 2014.
And, if you’ve missed that mileage run, keep an eye on your email in-box. No promises, but many carriers offer travelers who’ve just missed obtaining status a way to pay a fee and earn that status with a lot of travel early in the next year.